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How to keep your pets safe in the car

11 November 2020

Many pets travel in cars sitting on a loved one’s lap, but this is unsafe — and, in some states, illegal. We spoke to Ilsa Ford-Foreman, PetSure’s chief dog wrangler, to get the lowdown on how to keep your furry friend safe.

Know your state rules

When travelling with pets, it’s important to know the local road rules. Fines and demerit points differ between states. Your state or territory’s transport department will have up-to-date info.

Use a carrier

Small to medium sized pets should be safely confined in a pet carrier — it may act as a protective shell in a crash.

How to choose the right carrier


‘’The carrier needs to be long enough for the animal to comfortably lay down, and tall enough for it to stand up. Ideally, it should also be wide enough for it to turn around,’’ says Ilsa Ford-Foreman.

Be sure to use the correct measurements. Take your pet to the store if possible. Handy hint: ‘’if your dog’s head is tucked whilst standing, it’s too short,’’ says Ilsa.


‘’Ventilation is as equally important as size, especially in summer,’’ says Ilsa. Cats and dogs have the same ventilation requirements, though thick coated breeds need a greater supply of fresh, moving air to stay cool.


If you have a pup, or a dog that’s particularly pawsy, soft mesh carriers won’t last. Opt for a wire or hard plastic one instead. The same goes if you’re travelling with a cat — ‘’claws and mesh are not a good mix,’’ says Ilsa.

Use restraints

Pet carriers should always be restrained so they stay grounded in a crash. If you own a large dog, restrain it to the seat with a harness. Find one that attaches to the seatbelt low on your dog’s back. To reduce your pet’s risk of injury, choose restraints that have been crash tested to human standards (only the best for your furry family member!).

On the topic of risk, don’t forget car insurance! Suncorp offer three tiers of cover:

  • Third Party Property Damage, for the basics,
  • Third Party Fire & Theft Insurance, and
  •  Comprehensive, our highest range of cover.

No matter what level you choose, you’ll be going with an award-winning insurer. Our car insurance won Canstar’s Outstanding Claims Service Award for six years in a row! Get a quote online and save $50!

Get a Car Insurance Quote

Sidenote: although Suncorp Car Insurance covers people in your household—including in-laws and those not related to you—we don’t cover injury to or caused by pets.

Dealing with anxious pets

Pet safety is more than just their physical safety. You need to look after their emotional needs too. Here’s how to make an anxious pet feel safe on the road:

  • Cover the carrier with a breathable sheet or towel.
  • Only play music at low volumes.
  • Keep the windows up and the air con running.
  • Make frequent stops.
  • Condition your pet beforehand by taking them on short drives.
  • Speak to your vet about motion sickness meds, if applicable.

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Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Suncorp Insurance. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision about this insurance. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.